Reaching for the summit

MERCURY SERIES: MAKING A DIFFERENCE

University of Wollongong student Hunter Johnston has accepted a mighty challenge from his sister.

Laura Johnston, 20, dared her 21-year-old sibling to join her on a climb up Africa's highest peak, Mt Kilimanjaro, to raise funds and awareness for Amnesty Australia.

"She is a big Amnesty supporter and knew they were doing a volunteer call-out for the Mt Kilimanjaro challenge," Mr Johnston said.

"She rang me up one day and said 'do you want to climb a mountain with me?'."

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To ensure her big brother was not afraid of heights, Ms Johnston surprised him with a skydive over Wollongong for his 21st birthday.

Mr Johnston has also undertaken some unusual fundraising activities, including having his chest waxed, which raised $400 in sponsorship.

"That was also my sister's idea," he said.

"I've also done a few barbecues at uni and my mum put on a charity lunch which was a big help because she raised a lot of money."

He said preparing for the climb had increased his own knowledge of the work of Amnesty.

"By taking on the challenge I have been able to tell a lot of people what Amnesty actually do," he said.

"They do a lot of human rights work which is what the charity is based on. They raise the awareness of human rights issues and get a lot of people campaigning, so they change policies."

This is not Mr Johnston's first experience of charity work.

"I did volunteering work in my first year at uni," he said.

"I went over to Thailand with International Student Volunteers. That was to do volunteer work with mistreated and endangered elephants in Thailand. We tried to get them away from elephant trainers and back into the wild or nature parks."

The Kilimanjaro climb is expected to take seven days on the way up to the 5895m summit but four days on the way down.

Despite the scale of the ascent up the highest mountain in Africa Mr Johnston does not expect to suffer as much pain as he did when waxing his chest.

Mr Johnston will pay for the cost of the trip himself.

There are three groups of 20 people heading to Tanzania from Australia on July 17.

Mr Johnston is keen to attract more donations at website kilimanjarochallenge2.gofund raise.com.au/page/JohnstonH.

He said there was some friendly sibling rivalry motivating him because his sister, based in Newcastle, was ahead of his total so far of $3000.

Mr Johnson, a third-year computer science student, wants to secure a job in IT in Wollongong after graduating.

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